Thomas Cole was born in Lancashire, England in 1801 but moved to America by the time he was eighteen years old. There Cole began a long and prolific art career, going on to found the American art movement the Hudson River School. The Hudson River School of art was an artistic movement that flourished throughout much of the 19th century, especially in America where it was founded. It was named thusly because most, if not all, of the early paintings of the movement were of the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding areas, namely the Catskills, Adirondacks and the White Mountains. Eventually more locations would be painted, though the name of the movement remained the same.
Romanticism and Naturalism are important factors in Cole’s work and in the Hudson River School in at large. Sunny Morning on the Hudson River is one of Cole’s Hudson River School paintings. We overlook a valley from high above in the mountains. The Hudson River drifts lazily by in the distance, a thin ribbon of water from high above in the mountains. The early morning sun has not yet fully risen. The bright yellow of sunrise is still on the horizon line, the clouds in the distance glowing a brilliant gold. The morning fog has not yet fully lifted either, the misty fog still hanging in the air like smoke. In the foreground a broken, dead tree reaches feebly upwards. Some other green brush still thrives though, green leaves catching the sun.
Another painting by Cole in the same genre is Peace at Sunset. This is another scene of the Hudson River Valley, though this time it is set at sunset. The beautiful landscape is full of reds and golds reflected off the trees and mountains by the setting sun. Fog rises up off the hills and mingles with clouds in the sky. The creatures are all heading back to their hollows and nests for the night. A flock of birds fly over the crest of a mountain back into the distance. A deer stands underneath a dead tree at the left of the painting looking off in the direction of the setting sun. Another bird sits perched at the very top of another dead tree at the far right of the painting.Cole was a very important figure in the development of American art and the art of the 19th century. The landscapes of Cole set a standard for American landscape painting for generations to come. Cole’s paintings remain beloved today.